Bend Burger Company in Bend

The best onion rings in Bend!

There are four categories of hamburger in American Cuisine:

  1. The one you make at home on the grille.
  2. The fast food burger.
  3. The pub-food burger.
  4. The local burger joint burger.

Bend Burger Company falls into the latter category, as it is the prototypical local burger joint. BBC has two locations in Bend: on Franklin just west of Drake on the corner of Wall & Franklin downtown; and a second location on 3rd Street between Thurston & Seward, right across from Rite-Aid. I’ve eaten many times at both locations. Oddly, I eat downtown when it is ski season and on 3rd when it is bicycle season. I think I’ve only parked a car at the BBC on 3rd once, but have biked there many times. Go figure.

Note: The 3rd Street location does land-office business on weekday lunches, so be prepared for a crowd, unless you arrive early!

This week we stopped at the Franklin location downtown for a dinner before a movie at McMenamins. While it may seem odd to have dinner before going to a movie theater that serves dinner, I will admit to having a strong hankering for a PARTICULAR burger at the Bend Burger Company all week prior to our date night, and since I was driving, BBC it was!

Main Menu
Sides Menu

We’re both on “low carb” diets at the moment and BBC offers two great bunless low-carb options:

  1. A Burger Salad
  2. Any burger served on a bowl of sautéed green beans

When you enter either BBC you order at the counter and they give you a number, delivering your meal when it is ready. BBC is NOT fast food, so set your expectations accordingly. It will be a while, as your meal is made to order and VERY fresh. Good things come to those who wait. Both locations plenty of seating (the downtown location is much smaller however) and have bright decor with large format photos of central Oregon scenery and action shots of climbing at Smith Rock. A large screen TV has an endless slide show of Central Oregon images.

Both locations offer beer on-tap and wines by the glass. If your diet allows it (like my summertime 50+ mile bike days do!) order a milkshake. BBC shakes are delicious.

On this trip I order a Ponderosa Burger on Green Beans, and my date orders a Bend Burger Salad. I ask for a side of onion rings. Yeah, that’s a bit of a cheat on our diet, but since I am missing out on some of the best fries in Central Oregon, I want something to compensate with.

Our rings arrive first and rather than a small side, it is a huge basket of them! The BBC onion rings are amazing. Perfectly cooked with a crunchy outside and tender inside. My date proclaims them the best onion rings she has ever had. They are served with fry sauce, which I like to spice up with a few shots of the hot sauce they have on the table alongside the catsup and mustard.

About the time we’re licking our fingers after the last onion ring is gone, our burgers arrive:

The Ponderosa is covered in Pepper Jack cheese, onion straws, and to top it off another couple of onion rings!

The green beans are perfectly cooked and have a sauce that includes bacon and bits of ground beef. Some black pepper and a few shots from the hot sauce dispenser kicks up the heat a little.

The Bend Burger Salad is delivered with a bit of salad dressing of your choice. I would have picked Blue Cheese, but my date requests Ranch, on the side.

The entire meal is delicious. My date finishes her Burger Salad, but there is no way I can finish the bowl of beans. I’ve ordered this dish a few times and never been able to finish it in one sitting, but it makes for great leftovers so I get a “to-go” box and bring them home.

Leftover BBC Green Beans with eggs and bacon for breakfast

Bend Burger Company Locations:

718 NW Franklin Ave, Bend, OR

1939 NW 3rd Street, Bend, OR



Tim Garling’s Jackalope Grill in Bend

Adam Smith wasn’t an economist, he was, in the parlance of his day, a “Moral Philosopher.” He was an observer, thinker, teacher, and a writer. One of his postulates based on observation is the societal benefit of the division of labor. Rather than each of us having to do everything for ourselves in order to survive, we all specialize in something and contribute that specialty back to society. This give-and-take benefits us all and as Smith wryly observed, has allowed us to rise up from a primitive, difficult culture to a productive, comfortable one. On a macro scale it has produced truly amazing things such as transcontinental flight (which ironically we loathe as an inconvenience!) and portable currency. On a micro-scale it feeds us at restaurants with great ingredients from local producers.

As such I have always preached how it  pays to be a regular customer of any business, especially fine dining establishments. Eating after all, is the most basic of human needs, but fine cuisine has raised that most basic of things to high art of a most satisfying nature. We bring our currency, and the restaurant exchanges it for sustinence and service… win/win. To escalate that to a higher level, become a “regular.” Every businessperson knows that your best customers are the ones who keep coming back. Long ago, I ran a business and we knew precisely who our best revenue producing customers were, and I had every one of their contact details in my phone. I knew them on a first name basis. I also took my staff and customers frequntly to a sushi bar nearby for lunch quite often. We had an office tradition of “payday sushi”, meaning a trip to the sushi bar for lunch (almost) every payday.  The Owner/Sushi Chef at this place recognized our “regular” status, to the point that after a year or so, he would start making my order (Sushi Combo & Spicy Tuna Roll) as soon as I walked in the door. He never learned my name (he just called me “Boss”) but he knew who I was. My portions were bigger, I would get the best cuts and freshest fish. We treated each other well. Perfect Symbiosis.

I’ve been eating at The Jackalope Grill since the first month I moved to Central Oregon. Back then the Jackalope was in a strip mall south of Reed Market Road, a bit off Third street. It was hard to find and, to be honest, had near zero curb appeal. BUT… once inside, it was great. Fine food, a great wine list, and an excellent staff. It was through the wine list that I met Kathy Garling. Wine has been a passion of mine for a long time, and I have always enjoyed finding great wines at bargain prices. I recall seeing an obscure Chilean red wine on their list and ordered it. Kathy intercepted the order from our waiter and brought the bottle to our table herself. I recall that she remarked that I was the first person to ever order this wine, so she wanted to meet the oddball who picked it. We had a conversation about wines, and have been good acquaintances ever since.

The Jackalope Grill has since relocated to a far better space on Lava Rd in Downtown Bend, just north of the Oxford Hotel. This space is wonderful, and has a lovely courtyard filled with a vegetable/herb garden that makes a for fantastic alfresco dining in the warmer months. There is a cozy bar up front, and a warm, welcoming dining room.

Regular Menu

We stayed home for Valentine’s Day Dinner, mostly because we are practical people, and know what a circus V-Day can be at any restaurant. But we chose to celebrate the night after (2/15) with a dinner at The Jackalope. The dining room is not quite full, but you can tell the people who are in attendance have a similar cut to their jibs… Smart folks.

Usually I’ll order their amazing Grilled Romaine Salad as a starter. It is delicious! My date does order it, and confirms my diagnosis. As for mains, I’ve always had a rough time selecting between the astounding Rack of Lamb, or one of the steaks. Tonight however, the choices off the specials were too tempting to pass up:

Specials Menu

For my starter I order the “Burrata, Prosciutto, and Leeks on Grilled Country Bread.”

It is amazing.

I’ve actually never eaten anything like it before. The fresh mozzarella is creamy soft, and the flavor combination it makes with the leeks, prosciutto, and bread is wonderful! Just one of those savory treats that just satisfies your soul.

For dinner my date chooses the Ragu alla Bolognese, and I select the Paleron de Boeuf au Vin Rouge, which is described as:

“A warming wintertime classic of French country cooking. The Paleron is a very beefy, hardy cut from the shoulder perfect for braising in red wine. Served with mashed potatoes, oven-dried tomato and natural sauce.”

It arrives in a large bowl and includes roasted vegetables, and a modest amount of mashed potatoes at the bottom of the bowl. I like the nod to healthier eating and leaving out the mountain of potatoes! The vegetables are a nice winter mix of carrots, turnips, green beans, etc. The beef is heavenly! Tender and tasty, with a crackling thin crust of a wine reduction. It is perfectly seasoned… so much that I never even touch the salt & pepper on the table. The sauce is spectacular! Wonderfully French. The photo I take just doesn’t do it justice:

Dinner. Top: Ragu alla Bolognese. Bottom: Paleron de Boeuf au Vin Rouge.
 For the two of us this is not only a Valentines celebration, but something of a “Mardis Gras” as we’re going on diets the next day to look our best for an upcoming event. As such, we must have dessert!
Having tasted my way through their dessert menu I opt for the Creme Brulée. The Jackalope Grill makes one of the best Creme Brulée in the world. Nothing fancy, just straight forward, traditional French-style CB. The creme is soft, and not mealy/cold like you find in so many places. Bereft of the usual attempts to make it fancy with lemon, or cheese-cake style textures… Tim Garling’s Creme Brulée is perfect, and traditional. Served with a raspberry, atop a perfectly carmelized crunchy top.
Half eaten Creme Brulée
We are truly blessed to have Tim & Kathy Garling here in Central Oregon to take the fresh ingredients of the region and transform them through skill and labor into some amazing cuisine. I honestly rank The Jackalope Grill atop my list of favorite restaurants in the region. If you haven’t visited yet, what’s stopping you?
750 NW Lava Rd #139, Bend, OR 97701

Rigoberto’s Taco Shop, Redmond. 

Above: Drive-through menu

I’m not a big fan of fast food. I prefer sit-down dining and fresh stuff. But sometimes eating has to take a back seat to more pressing concerns. Yesterday I had to drive to Portland for a funeral. As I’m heading out of Central Oregon I stop to fill up the tank at Freddie’s in Redmond and my tummy was growling. Where should I go? Heading north my choices are a few Burger places (Sno-cap, Bogey’s), Sonic, and a couple of sub sandwich places. Then I recall a great Carne Asada combo plate I enjoyed at Rigoberto’s on Antler and 5th last summer. I decide to swing by and grab a burrito to go. 

There is an art to rolling a burrito so well that it can be eaten one-handed. I can recall a burrito shop I frequented back in the early 90s that could wrap a football-sized one so well it would maintain cohesion down to the last grain of rice. I figured it would be a good test for Rigaberto’s. 

Above: The Burrito, in hand. 

The service is quick, I have my burrito in hand and am underway in minutes. It is a chicken burrito. Heavy, and well-wrapped. The paper wrapping is easy to partially undo to facilitate eating. The tortilla wrap is perfectly constructed. The filling is a wonderful concoction of an earthy red sauce, chicken, rice & beans. 

Above: Deee-licious!

Honestly it is one of the best chicken burritos I have ever eaten. 

So much better than a fast-food hamburger to be honest. I wolf it down before I arrive in Terrebonne. True to form, it maintained its shape as I ate it. No “burruption” risk at all. 

Tummy satisfied, I drive non-stop to PDX and on arrival I note that in the bag are some sauce samples:

The burrito of course is long gone, but I open one of the green ones and have a taste. So good I down the whole container! Again, a spicy/earthy/savory delight. 

Try Rigoberto’s. Let me know what you think.